I recently bought a new laptop that came pre-installed with Windows Vista Home Premium. While waiting for the release of Windows 7, I got comfortable with my system and customized all of my settings including the system tray’s notification icons. All was well and my new laptop began feeling like home. That is, until this morning when Automatic Updates rolled out Service Pack 2 for Windows Vista (KB94846) (more info). After the update was applied, system notification icons for the Volume Mixer and Network were missing.
I had heard of this happening and recalled that everyone had recommended using System Restore to roll the system back. Now why would I want to do that? Service Pack 2 provides a slew of security updates that I’d like to have on my system. Wouldn’t it be better instead to fix the problem properly?
To begin, eliminate any fluke possibility by making sure that the system notification icons aren’t simply disabled.
Enabling System Notification Icons in Windows Vista:
- Right-click an empty area of the taskbar and choose Properties to open the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties dialog box.
- Select the Notification Area tab and look at the series of checkboxes in the System icons section.
- Be sure the icons you would like to have displayed are selected and click Apply and then OK to save your settings.
If you can do this, your system doesn’t have any problems and all should be well again. If however, like me, these options are disabled and appear grayed out, you will need to implement a simple registry fix in order to make them available again.
Clearing the Notification Icon Settings in the Registry:
- Click the Start button (or press the Windows key ) to open the Start Menu.
- Type regedit in the Start Search box and then select regedit.exe from the Instant Search results to open the Registry Editor.
- If User Account control is enabled, you will be prompted for your permission to allow the program to continue. Click Continue.
- In the left pane, navigate to the following registry key:
- In the right pane, right-click and delete both the IconStreams and PastIconsStream values. They will be recreated automatically later.
- Close the Registry Editor.
- You will need to reboot or stop and restart the Explorer.exe process in order for your changes to take effect.
- Now follow the steps outlined above and the System Notification Icons options should no longer be unavailable.
As always, please backup your registry before attempting to make any changes!